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Brown, New Labour fail as homophobic hate crimes increase dramatically

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A month or so ago, I announced my next research project would be on the role Section 28 played in reigniting the gay rights movement in the late 80s. To my chagrin, I was met by two responses from LGBT Britons: a collective yawn coupled with a resounding scoff. I was told Section 28 hadn’t effected anything, wasn’t worth researching, and that there was now no homophobia in the UK. One follower of mine on Twitter went so far as to say the only problems a gay Briton has are ones brought upon himself.

However, for those paying attention this year, the notion that gay Britons are immune to homophobia and violence has been utterly shattered. Last August, 18 year old Michael Causer, of Liverpool, died following a homophobic attack in late July. In November of last year, David Cooper, 28, was beaten to death at his flat in Woolwich after a night of drinking in Soho. Back in March, 59 year old Gerry Edwards and his partner were the victims of a hate crime at their own flat; Edwards died as a result of stab wounds. In July, Edward Highwood, 79, was murdered at his home in Greenwich in what neighbors fear was a gay hate crime. And two weeks ago, 62 year old Ian Baynham was beaten to death in Trafalgar Square after a woman shouted homophobic slurs at him.

Now, in a hospital in Liverpool, trainee cop James Parkes, 22, fights for his life after being beaten by a gang of youths on Stanley Street, the heart of the city’s unofficial gay district. He had been enjoying a night out on the town with his partner and friends.  Police suspect the attack on Parkes, too, is a hate crime.

james parkes

James Parkes, 22, was attacked after a night out with his partner and friends. Police suspect the attack on Parkes, too, is a hate crime.

This disturbing trend in homophobic assaults and murders is something the British public can ill afford to ignore. I fail to understand the absence of a collective outrage. When Jan Moir’s infamous column regarding Stephen Gately’s death appeared in the Daily Mail, Britain erupted in a firestorm of controversy. But though her words were odious and offensive, Jan Moir didn’t actually kill Stephen Gately. Instead, as Janet Street Porter pointed out in her own column in the Mail, being gay did kill a man the week Mr Gately died, but it wasn’t Mr Gately: it was Mr Baynham.

Now, it looks as though we are yet again prepared to turn a blind eye to the blatant homophobia LGBT Britons face. This is a serious national issue which must be addressed. Britain must face the ugliness of its own reflection in order to make change.

For it is not simply hate crimes against gay men which is the problem; indeed, such crimes are only a symptom of a wider issue facing the country. Mr Causer was killed by two teenage men. Mr Cooper was murdered by a 19 year old Algerian asylum seeker. Mr. Baynham was attacked by two female teenagers. And now Mr Parkes fights for his life because of a violent pack of unforgiving youths. All this in addition to 2008’s horrendous epidemic of knife crime, perpetrated largely by teenagers.

Cases like these, as well as those of knife crime victims Rob Knox, Ben Kinsella, and Jimmy Mizen, amongst dozens of others, underscore two paramount needs. First, we must endeavor to understand what about our culture has led youths to see violence—regardless of whether the crime is a homophobic beating or a youth-on-youth stabbing—as socially acceptable. Then we must strengthen laws designed to combat such violence so as they serve not only as a vehicle to punish such offenses, but as a deterrent to their ever being committed.

Ben Kinsella

Sixteen year old Ben Kinsella was stabbed to death last year

 

On both these counts, Gordon Brown and the Labour government have failed miserably. Since Gordon Brown became Prime Minister, instances of both homophobic hate crimes and knife crime have risen substantially. Though Jack Straw and his ilk insist that Labour is “tough on crime,” every time you open a newspaper you’re hearing of another violent attack perpetrated by a British youth.

Let us not kid ourselves—the policies of this government have a major correlation to the epidemic of violence facing the nation today. If we are completely honest, we will acknowledge that a good portion of these crimes result from the lack of assimilation of immigrants, who often come from impoverished, war-torn areas where violence ins the norm.  Consequently, they live in urban ghettos and find themselves in squalor and poverty. Poverty breeds gangs which breed crime. In attempting to remain politically correct and embrace a multicultural society, this government has neglected the needs of immigrants and created a new class of poor and working poor people, condemning them to live in impoverished slums instead of providing them with the tools necessary to become successful, productive British citizens.

We must then look at why British youths—regardless of race or national origin—are embracing a culture of violence. To this question there are no easy answers. The Labour Government has provided far too lenient of sentences for perpetrators, and its policies of “education” (by showing perpetrators victims of knife crimes in hospital, for example) are a miserable failure. Indeed, many offenders receive little more than a fine after being caught carrying a knife, which hardly bolsters Labour’s claim to be “tough on crime.”

We must also be sure to teach our children to respect differences. In cases like Michael Causer and now James Parkes, homophobia has reared its ugly head. Just as we must accept that the policies of this government have failed, we must also accept that society has failed itself. For too long homophobic slurs have been socially acceptable, and for too long violent images have been allowed to permeate television, films, and video games. Parents must take responsibility for what they allow their children to be exposed to, as well as emphasizing the value of every human life.

Until Britain can honestly address the issues it faces, and until a government is elected that is equipped and ready to handle the problem, the country cannot begin to counter the staggering and alarming increase in violent crime.